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Application of a Digitized Fuel Load Surveying Methodology to Office Buildings

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This paper discusses application of a new methodology that facilitates fuel load surveys in buildings. The methodology consists of four steps comprising digital inventory, data organization, item matching through computer vision, and fuel load estimation, and is programmed into a digitized surveying application. The present paper applies the methodology to three office buildings and provides the results of surveyed fuel load density. A total office area of 1720 m2 was surveyed consisting of 34 closed offices and 161 cubicles within 12 large open plan office spaces. Compartment areas range from 8 m2 to 87 m2 for closed offices and 24 m2 to 345 m2 for open plan offices. The measured fuel load density for movable content had a mean of 1115 MJ/m2 with a standard deviation of 614 MJ/m2. When including the fixed content, the measured total fuel load density had a mean of 1486 MJ/m2 with a standard deviation of 726 MJ/m2. These values are considerably larger than values found in older surveys and most code provisions. The surveyed rooms had large quantities of paper, which amounted to 54% of the movable fuel load on average. Based on these results, and findings from other recent surveys, it is recommended to collect additional data. The work has established the foundation toward a fully automatized method, relying on an electronic form and a structured database of recorded information. A wide adoption of this method could populate an extensive fuel load database which can then be used to provide design guidelines for fuel load density in codes and standards, for application in performance-based design.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for their generous support. The FPRF generously provided funding and guidance for this research project. The authors appreciate the efforts of the project technical panel who consisted of experts from different parts of the industry as follows: Craig Beyler, Jensen Hughes (retired); Florian Block, BuroHappold; Richard Davis, FM Global; Dave Frable, General Services Administration; Matt Hoehler, NIST; Chris Jelenewicz, SFPE; Kevin LaMalva, Simpson Gupertz & Heger; Drew Martin, Holmes Fire Safety; Margaret McNamee, Lund University; Brian Meacham, Meacham Associates; Jim Milke, University at Maryland; Steve Wolin, Reliable Automatic Sprinkler; Valeria Ziavras, NFPA staff liaison; Baran Ozden, NFPA staff liaison.

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Correspondence to Negar Elhami-Khorasani.

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Elhami-Khorasani, N., Salado Castillo, J.G., Saula, E. et al. Application of a Digitized Fuel Load Surveying Methodology to Office Buildings. Fire Technol 57, 101–122 (2021).

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